Musical opens this week

2009-11-17 00:00

THE Playhouse Company’s My Fair Lady promises to be one of the hottest theatre tickets in Durban this festive season.

Presented in partnership with East Coast Radio, the musical, which opens on Friday, is directed by and stars multi-award-winning Ralph Lawson.

With spectacular new set designs by Andrew Botha and Stan Knight, this classic rags-to-riches tale also stars Lisa Bobbert and Gina Shmukler, who alternate in the lead role as Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower-seller who is transformed into a high-society lady.

According to Lawson, who directed a highly successful production of the musical in Cape Town last year, much of the show’s phenomenal appeal with modern audiences stems from its historical pedigree.

“Adapted from the great British dramatist George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, which premiered in 1913, My Fair Lady boasts one of the feistiest heroines in show business,” says Lawson. “As Eliza rises from obscurity, she carries the goodwill of the audience with her all the way. We delight in her ability to stand up for herself, as she learns life’s painful lessons. Without labouring the point, I see her as Shaw’s liberated ‘new woman’. She stems directly from his ­vision of strong, independent womanhood.”

Lawson aimed for a fresh slant in this production. “The costumes aside, we are going for a totally different look to that seen in this venue three years ago. I have also tried to instil a strong touch of realism in the way the characters are played. The emotions depicted in this work are true to life.”

My Fair Lady premiered on Broadway in 1956, with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and a score by Frederick Loewe. The Playhouse production has choreography by Mark Hawkins, costumes by Neil Stuart-Harris and the cast will be accompanied by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Naum Rousine.

Themi Venturas reprises his award-winning 2006 portrayal of Alfred Doolittle, and Frank Graham and Cobus Venter return to their roles as Colonel Pickering and Freddie Eynsford-Hill respectively.

The show’s hit numbers include Why Can’t the English?, Wouldn’t It Be Luverly?, With a Little Bit o’ Luck, Just You Wait, The Rain in Spain and I Could Have Danced All Night.

My Fair Lady opens at the Playhouse Opera on November 20 and runs until December 30. Pre-booked tickets range from R80 to R120. Book at Computicket.

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